understated regalia
February 23, 2018 9:43 AM   Subscribe

What are good examples of simple, or understated, honors, regalia and awards that are extremely important? I'm thinking of things like the Roman grass crown, a crown of grass and wildflowers that was considered the highest military honor, or the Hellenic white silk headband diadems that showed kingly authority.
posted by the man of twists and turns to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The French Legion of Honor insignia is just a red bar on a lapel (scroll down).
posted by wnissen at 9:50 AM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Laurel wreaths in Ancient Greece.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:12 AM on February 23, 2018

Military service ribbons. E.g.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:28 AM on February 23, 2018

Fasces? Just a bundle of sticks tied together that symbolized the authority of Rome, and now commonly seen in the imagery of other republics. The thingies in bas-relief behind the Speaker's dais in the US House are fasces.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:06 AM on February 23, 2018


Traditionally, attended to by 6 or 12 or 24 armed lictors seems pretty flashy - I'm looking for things a person would wear.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:15 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Perhaps the belts in various Martial Arts? The highest, most respected levels aren't substantially different than the plain belts of the lowest levels -- they're just different colours.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:35 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

A Christian cross made of 2 sticks

A drawing of a laurel wreath around accolades on a film poster

The conch shell in Lord of the Flies

The simple multi-metal chain worn by Maesters in Game of Thrones

A rough fur cape across the shoulders probably means something somewhere?

A single feather, as worn by some North American Indigenous peoples

The 4 tiny brass dots on Captain Picard's collar
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:41 AM on February 23, 2018

Regimental tie patterns
posted by scruss at 11:48 AM on February 23, 2018

Does it have to be real-world? The collar pips in Star Trek are pretty understated, I think.
posted by amtho at 11:54 AM on February 23, 2018

Roman charioteers were given a victory palm. Here's another example in mosaic. Interestingly, palm fronds were such a symbol of victory that we also see them in other contexts like this fresco from Boscoreale.
posted by Mouse Army at 12:07 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

The French Legion of Honor insignia is just a red bar on a lapel.

Similarly, the Order of Canada is commonly just a teeny tiny snowflake lapel pin (although there are full-sized medals). Often, that pin will just look like a white speck in photos or on the teevee, but Canadians will instantly know what that speck really means.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

A bit of a stretch for regalia but what about Facebook employee hoodies? I'm also reminded in general of all the variations of dressing informally because you're so rich/powerful that you don't even care about looking rich/powerful: tech billionaires in hoodies and flipflops, people with old money eschewing flashy designers for secondhand LL Bean, etc.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:34 PM on February 23, 2018

Oh, also US Olympic athletes' rings are downright subtle, especially compared to say, Super Bowl rings.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:39 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Iron Ring given to Canadian engineers.

Also the white coat of physicians and other medical practitioners, maybe? It's now becoming common for medical schools to have a White coat ceremony for first year students; also many places have students wear shorter white coats, while full-fledged doctors wear longer white coats.
posted by castlebravo at 12:43 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

The US Military Medal of Honor service ribbon would be worn as part of the pins on a dress uniform. There is a lapel button.

The US Presidential Medal Of Freedom has a lapel pin, but you know VP Joe Biden probably wears the whole medal to water fights.

There is a US civilian Medal of Freedom.

The military, probably everywhere, certainly the US, has official medals and ribbons, and official ceremonies, and plenty of quasi- or un-official pins, coins, etc., and ceremonies. Browsing catalogs of military pins is fascinating.
posted by theora55 at 1:57 PM on February 23, 2018

I was also going to suggest the Iron Ring for engineers.

In the BSA, the red white and blue square knot represents that the adult wearing it obtained the rank of Eagle Scout as a youth.

There's also the tear drop tattoo on someone's face signifying that they've murdered someone. (supposedly)
posted by TomFoolery at 2:11 PM on February 23, 2018

ooh what a cool question. perhaps green turbans to signify one's descendancy of the prophet Muhammad (see: Sayyid) ? ..well, while everyone is rocking a turban.
posted by speakeasy at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

In the canadian military, “mentioned in dispatches” merits a tiny oak leaf rather than a medal (although if there was a campaign ribbon then it is adorned to the ribbon).
posted by furtive at 10:50 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

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